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Richmond to open two new shelters ahead of winter

A brick building is seen.
Alex Broening
VPM News File
The HI Richmond hostel, in the former Otis Elevator building at 7 N. Second St.

Starting Friday, there will be 200 beds available for unhoused people in the 'capital of compassion.'

As rates of unhoused people have risen in the City of Richmond, elected officials have begun to answer public demands to provide more permanent housing solutions for people experiencing unsheltered homelessness.

On Thursday, Nov. 30, Richmond officials announced that a 150-bed inclement weather shelter in Northside operated by the Salvation Army would be opening on Dec. 1, after City Council allocated $1.3 million to renovate two housing shelters earlier in November.

There will also be a 50-bed family shelter opening up on Dec. 1 in the Monroe Ward neighborhood. Those looking for access to the shelter will need to reach out to the Greater Richmond Continuum of Care by calling (804) 972-0831.

The Northside shelter will be open through April 15, 2024, with potential for extended year-round services, while the Monroe Ward shelter will be open year-round.

In the past, residents have criticized the city’s lack of dedicated services for its unhoused population. As previously reported, the city missed its self-imposed deadline for establishing inclement weather shelters last winter. Over the summer, a new report was released stating that more people in the Richmond-area are living without shelter.

During Thursday’s remarks, Mayor Levar Stoney acknowledged that Richmond is doing what it can to provide as many options as possible for the growing population of unsheltered people.

“As I've said many times before, there is no lack of compassion from the city,” Stoney said. “But there's at times a lack of capacity. Today, we are expanding that capacity.”

Leaders in the city recognize that many unhoused residents in the area might not have family or friends to rely on when times get tough.

“Not everyone has the same starting point, nor do they have the same set of circumstances,” said Traci Deshazor, the city’s deputy chief administrative officer for human services. “What we know to be true is that each individual we serve has a unique set of circumstances, and our consistent goal is to meet them where they are and simply assist.”

The city has put $50 million in its budget to be used over the next five years to help mitigate what Stoney calls a “crisis of homelessness.” Richmond will receive a matching financial commitment from the Virginia-based nonprofit Local Initiative Support Coalition as part of the ongoing efforts.

The city has also recognized that shelter is only a temporary solution for that crisis, and is more of an “entry point to get people back on the path of stability,” which Mayor Stoney is grateful for.

City officials have worked to create a “welcoming, supportive and compassionate city,” Stoney said, referring to all the work done to make Richmond a “capital of compassion.

Annette Cousins with the Greater Richmond Continuum of Care said that the groups that serve Richmond’s unhoused population have served more than 1,000 people through a year-round emergency shelter and housing programs.

“In the last 10 years, this network of providers has found permanent housing for more than 11,410 unique individuals in our community,” Cousins said.

Updated: December 1, 2023 at 3:42 PM EST
Information regarding access to the Monroe Ward shelter was added.
Lyndon German covers Henrico and Hanover counties for VPM News.
Meghin Moore is a VPM News editor. She's a Penn State graduate with a background in broadcast and digital journalism. Previously, she worked at The Daily Progress in Charlottesville.
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